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Crofting in Scotland

croft with rainbow in background

The Scottish Government values crofting as a form of land tenure and recognises the added contribution that crofting continues to make to the rural economy and the sustainability of rural and remote rural communities.


The Scottish Government is committed to reforming crofting to secure its future, bring new blood into crofting communities, and ensure it can continue to contribute to the development of a thriving rural Scotland.


This policy is reflected in the current legislative framework which places a number of duties on crofters, including the duty to reside within 32 km of the croft; cultivate the croft, or put the croft to another purposeful use; and not misuse or neglect the croft. These duties serve to maintain the integrity of rural communities in the Highlands and Islands.


There are 20,570 crofts in Scotland, mainly in the Highlands and Islands, and around 33,000 people live in crofting households.


What is crofting?

A croft is a small unit of land traditionally situated in the former crofting counties in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. A crofter is normally the tenant of a croft, and pays rent to the landlord of the croft. Rent is paid for the land only as any house, agricultural building, fence etc is provided by, and owned by the crofter. A crofter may own their own croft - which remains in crofting tenure.

Crofting tenure gives wide-ranging rights to crofting tenants, such as:

  • Security of tenure
  • Fair rents
  • Compensation for permanent improvements
  • To pass on their tenancies to members of their families or
  • To pass their tenancy to other third parties (with the approval of the Crofting Commission)
  • To purchase either, their house site or, if they wish their croft as a whole, at a fixed price

Many mistake crofting for small-scale farming. This is clearly too narrow a view and understates the immense influence crofting has on the everyday lives of people in communities in crofting areas. While agriculture has its place generally crofters either obtain the bulk of their income from other full-time or part-time employment or are retired.


Support for Crofting